Benda Bilili! (2011)



Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

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Benda Bilili! follows an unlikely group of musicians in Kinshasa, capital of the war-torn Democratic Republic of Congo. The band, Staff Benda Bilili-in English, "look beyond"-is a group of street musicians composed of four paraplegics and three able-bodied men. The core of the group is four singer/guitarists polio, who use customized tricycles to get around: Ricky, the eldest and a co-founding member of the band; Coco, the band's composer and co-founding member with Ricky; Junana, the member most disabled by polio, yet the official choreographer; and Coude, a bass player and soprano singer. Joining them is a young and entirely acoustic rhythm section, led by Roger, a teenage prodigy on the satongé, a one-string guitar he designed and built himself out of a tin can. -- (C) Nat Geo
PG-13 (for some drug material)
Art House & International , Documentary , Special Interest
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Makemo Nzale
as Makemo Nzale
Theo "Coude" Nsituvuidi
as Theo "Coude" Nsituvuidi
Zadis Mbulu Nzungu
as Zadis Mbulu Nzungu
Djunana Tanga-Suele
as Djunana Tanga-Suele
Coco Ngambali Yakala
as Coco Ngambali Yakala
Paulin "Cavalier" Kiara-Maigi
as Paulin "Cavalier" Kiara-Maigi
Claude Kinunu Montana
as Claude Kinunu Montana
Roger Landu
as Roger Landu
Leon "Ricky" Likabu
as Leon "Ricky" Likabu
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Critic Reviews for Benda Bilili!

All Critics (27) | Top Critics (9)

Staff Benda Bilili's unlikely triumph is an epic feat, with or without anyone's help.

Full Review… | October 14, 2011
Washington Post
Top Critic

From out of the gloom comes the hypnotic grooves of a band called Staff Benda Bilili. The name means "look beyond appearances," and the members of this remarkable musical collective do just that.

October 14, 2011
Toronto Star
Top Critic

Benda Belili! reminds us that we need to look beyond The X Factor to discover musical talent that strikes a deeper chord.

Full Review… | October 13, 2011
Globe and Mail
Top Critic

"Benda Bilili!" earns its exclamation point. It's a feel-good movie that actually makes you feel good, a story that will have you shaking your head in astonishment and moving your feet to some unstoppable rhythms.

Full Review… | October 6, 2011
Los Angeles Times
Top Critic

"Benda Bilili!" is brutally real, a document of willpower that shows not only the magic of transcendence - which may be fleeting - but also the transformation of aspiring to it, every struggling step of the way.

Full Review… | September 29, 2011
New York Times
Top Critic

This unsentimental, smartly assembled film is equally attentive to the cacophony of African poverty and the balm of harmony provided by these pied pipers of hope.

Full Review… | September 29, 2011
Entertainment Weekly
Top Critic

Audience Reviews for Benda Bilili!

Best music documentary since 'Searching For Sugarman'. It's a story of homeless congolese Ricky and his friends who overcome their roots and surroundings to become world music phenomenon. Not only they live in politically conflicted nation, they are also disabled and wheeled chaired. But that didn't stop Ricky and his bandmates to keep making amazing music, and french reporters who discovered them spent five years to finally release their album worldwide. The band's name 'Banda Bilili' means 'look beyond appearances' in the tribe's language, and what an appropriate name for a band who defies all the odds despite what people thought of them and their future. Enjoy the movie and most of it all, their music is twice as nice!

Kyungwan Chae
Kyungwan Chae

Superlative and incredibly moving music doc. Review soon.

Daniel Parsons
Daniel Parsons

Super Reviewer


Set during a dark time, ''Benda Bilili'' manages to be one of the most uplifting films of 2011. Even though this documentary is set during a very dark time in the Democratic Republic of Congo, the filmmakers bring light to the film by showing us the achievements of the group of musicians the filmmakers follow. It is a fascinating journey that shows us just how much can be achieved with so little. One of 2011's best so far.

Liam Gadd
Liam Gadd

Super Reviewer

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